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Gear, Gadgets and Tricks to Help You Eat Less

By JESS BARRON

With everyone so busy, it seems like the speed at which we are eating our meals and snacks has increased. And numerous studies — including a 2003 UNC Chapel Hill study — have shown that our portion sizes have also increased over the years. Consequently, our waistlines, bodyweight and BMIs have also increased. It stands to reason that if we are able to slow down our eating and decrease our portion sizes, we will have better control over reducing our weight and waistlines.

You may have heard the term “mindful eating,” which a lot of people are talking about lately. It comes from the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, i.e. being fully aware of what is happening at the moment. The idea is to remove distractions such as TV, computers, and cell phones while you eat and to really experience your food. As you take each bite, ask yourself if you’re really tasting and noticing the texture and aroma of your meal.

There are some new products and gadgets that have been created to help us be more mindful of our eating. And if you don’t have it in your budget to try new products right now, there are even some free tricks you can try.
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Gadgets and Tricks to Get You to Slow Down While Eating:

1. HAPIfork. If you’re a fast eater and you have problems slowing down and you love gadgets — the HAPIfork may work for you. I’m a notoriously fast eater, (except when I’m in a social situation where there is a lot of talking, and in those cases I’m notoriously slow at eating). At home, I frequently finish dinner before my husband. (Sure, he’s usually eating a bit more food, but still!) The HAPIfork sounded like the perfect piece of gear to slow down my eating time. It actually alerts you with gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast. And there is an app that tracks your progress and shows you the stats on which meals you were able to eat the slowest so you can compete against your best (longest!) times. PRICE: $99.99. WHERE TO FIND: Hapi.com.

HAPIfork works with your Mac or PC and smartphone.

HAPIfork works with your Mac or PC and smartphone.

2. If you don’t like gadgets, there are other tricks you can try that cost nothing. For example, set your kitchen timer to 20 minutes, and challenge yourself to take the whole time to eat your meal. See if you can do it!

3. Try eating with your non-dominant hand. If you’re right-handed, hold your fork in your left hand for the entire meal. If you’re left-handed, try using your right hand for the entire meal.

4. Use chopsticks to eat your dinner (if you don’t normally use them).

Gear (and a Trick) to Get You to Eat Less:

1. SlimPlate Portion Control Plates. These are fun and well-designed plates and bowls that get you to understand proper portioning of proteins, vegetables, fruits and fats that can truly get you weight loss results. Plus they look bright and fun, so they don’t feel clinical. PRICE: $107.00. WHERE TO FIND: SlimPlateSystem.com.
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2. Vienna Lunch Bag With On-The-Go Containers. Packing your own lunches for work and for school makes it so much easier to eat healthily (and more affordable too!). This kit is perfect for teens and adults. The lunch bag can be carried over the shoulder, and the accompanying container set is the perfect fit, with lids to match the bag. You can pack a large salad or sandwich in the 8-cup container and then fill the 2-cup containers with snacks. Ice packs and containers are non-toxic and BPA free. Containers are safe for freezer, microwave, and dishwasher top rack. PRICE: $24.99. WHERE TO FIND: Fit-Fresh.com.
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3. Use Your Hands. Yes, you really don’t even need to buy anything. You can use your hands to estimate proper food portion sizes. Here’s exactly how to do it.

Hope these are helpful suggestions and ideas for you. As always, let me know if you have questions or if there is anything I can do to help.

–Jess

Readers - Are you trying to eat less? Would you try any of these gear and gadgets? Which looks like it would be helpful to you? Do you have other tricks to help you eat less? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Jess Barron is Editor-in-Chief of LIVESTRONG.COM. Read some of her other health and fitness articles here. A longtime foodie and fan of Farmer's Market food, Jess particularly loves heirloom tomatoes, fresh figs with burrata cheese, and anything with pumpkin or peanut butter in it! Her love for food fuels her desire to exercise daily. In the summer of 2012 Jess lost 20 pounds in a test group for a new fitness program. Some of her favorite workout routines include walking, running, yoga, P90X, INSANITY, and mixed martial arts. Jess's writing can also be found at Poprocks.com. She has appeared on MSNBC's "The Most," ABC News Now, and XM satellite radio and her writing has appeared on Wired.com and Yahoo!

Follow Jess on Twitter @jessdandy. Also, you can add her on Google+ and follow her on Pinterest.

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